Video of the UN special event 'Ending violence and criminal sanctions on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity', 10 December 2010. Includes powerful remarks by UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon.
By Paul Canning
The United States has reintroduced an amendment at the UN General Assembly reinstating a reference to sexual orientation as a suspect motive for extrajudicial killings. The reference, which had previously been included in a list of suspect motives for extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions specifically condemned by the resolution, was removed by a UN vote last month. If passed, the amendment will make clear that the international community does not condone extrajudicial killing based on sexual orientation.
Neil Grungras, Executive Director of ORAM (Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration) said:
“We are gratified that the US government heard the international outcry over last month’s vote and is taking a stand against the extermination of LGBTs worldwide. At a time when oppression, hatred and scapegoating of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is mushrooming, it is more important than ever that LGBTs receive all the support possible from enlightened nations. In another positive development, we are also very pleased that this week, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees expressed the agency’s commitment to protect those who are forced to flee due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.The American announcement was made at a side event at the United Nations yesterday. Present were UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon; Permanent Representative of the US to the UN, Susan Rice; Assistant Secretary-General, Ivan Šimonović, and three panelists from civil society. The event was hosted by the Permanent Missions of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, France, Gabon, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, The United States of America and the Delegation of the European Union and co-organized with International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), which recently received observer status at the UN, as well as other international LGBT human rights organizations.
“As we celebrate International Human Rights Day we are given renewed hope that all people – including LGBTs – will one day be able to live free from fear and safe from harm.”
Rice said she was "incensed" by the recent vote in a General Assembly committee that left out any mention of sexual orientation from a resolution condemning the extrajudicial killing of vulnerable people worldwide. Previous resolutions had included the mention.
The American ambassador said that the United States will sponsor a UN amendment to restore the reference to killings based on sexual orientation. "We're going to stand firm on this basic principle," she said.
Rights groups welcomed Rice's announcement, and called on all U.N. member states to support the amendment.
"Words do have a meaning at the U.N.," said Boris Dittrich of Human Rights Watch. "Reintroducing the reference to sexual orientation in the resolution could help put an end to the hateful killing of people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity."
Other statements presented at the UN Side Event (all PDF):
- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
- Mr. Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Linda Baumann, (Namibia) Interim Director of Out-Right Namibia
- Buse Kilickaya, (Turkey) Founder of Pembe Hayat (Pink Life) (Read by Justus Eisfeld at the event)
- Vidyaratha Kissoon, (Guyana) Founding member of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD)